Phoenix, AZ – The cool brisk air at the end of summer brought along The Toadies on the southwest leg of its tour. The chatter of “We should have bought our tickets early” and “The show is sold out” permeated at the front of the Crescent Ballroom, a local hot spot bands, both local and national, make their way through. The last time The Toadies rolled through town was on a co-headlining tour with Helmet, which found the band within the confines of a cavernous space. Here though, every inch of the ballroom was covered by fans fervent to hear songs that made them popular in the 90’s.
Walking into the club there was a band already playing. On the stage was Local H, one musical entity I’ve never had a passion for listening to but I wasn’t the only person there. The band had the audience singing along to a number of tracks it performed. It took me a moment to grasp the idea that yes, the band still remained a 2-piece since its heyday, and they had no need for a thick bottom-heavy bassist. They two members, guitarist Scott Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding – who has been pounding the skins since 2013 – completely captivated the audience. Midway through their set, I was hit with their best-known radio hit “Bound For The Floor” and the crowd just ate it up.
When the lights went on after the band’s set, there was a surrealist moment as I noticed the crowd, peppered throughout with young fans but was mostly filled a well-aged fan base. As the aging crowd made its way to the bar in an attempt to ready itself for the headliner, the road crew and soundman began adjusting cables, mics, and wires. And then The Toadies hit the stage. I’ve followed the band’s career throughout the years so it was good to hear the band go through an assortment of tracks from numerous albums but it seems the crowd didn’t care, they just wanted to watch and hear The Toadies belt out anything they wanted to play. Of course, at a Toadies show, you’re always bound to hear tracks off the 1994 debut Rubberneck because well, it’s Rubberneck. The band obliged with its performance of tracks Like “Mexican Hairless,” “Backslider,” “Possum Kingdom,” and more. But the band isn’t all about nostalgia as tracks were performed from the new release, The Lower Side Of Uptown, a blistering joint containing 12-tracks of good ol’ rock n roll. The inebriated crowd was eating up everything the band offered, and when The Toadies ripped into “Take Me Alive,” heads and bodies bounced with excitement, hand-claps and all. It’s obvious the band hasn’t lost a step, especially since it continues to sharpen its already razor-edged delivery from track to track. The band makes it seem easy and the songs always translate perfectly live. My only complaint is the lack of “Rattler’s Revival” but bands can’t satisfy my every wonton need. They did break out an amazing cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You.”
I think I’ve officially become a member of the Possum Kingdom.